Police: New laws won't tackle cybercrime

A strengthened Computer Misuse Act won't have much impact on cybercriminals who are already flouting tougher laws, according to one of Britain's leading cybercops
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor

The UK's online police force has indicated that any changes made to the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) will do little to deter hackers.

MPs in the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) are pushing for the criminalisation of denial-of-service attacks and the lengthening of the maximum jail sentence hacking crimes from one to two years. On Tuesday next week, Parliament will have ten minutes to decide whether the 12-year-old CMA needs to be updated.

APIG hopes that by increasing penalties, hacking will become an extraditable offence.

But Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), believes that other laws are already more effective at tackling cybercrime.

"The CMA is useful, but for the types of crimes we deal with, the computer is a large component of cases that focus on blackmail, fraud, a theft or some sort or extortion and we're always going to charge with the more serious offence to get the more serious sentences," Deats told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

The NHTCU claims to have made 200 arrests in 100 joint operations with its international counterparts. However, many of the UK court cases have taken more than three years for prosecutions to occur. This, Deats added, is a problem.

"For example, an investigation has been going on since we set up," he said. "That was a tough job — hotly contested. It's taken that long. That's awful, but that's the situation."

"We've never lost a case yet. That's a really dangerous statement to make, but as it stands we're doing well," said Deats.

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